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Cycle program gives children confidence biking city streets

Youth enrol in Cycle Stratford program to learn how to safely navigate busy roads.
Cycle Stratford
A group of children pictured at the Ride with Confidence program. The young cyclists are pictured alongside Stratford police Const. Darren Fischer and park-patrol officer Madeline Atchison.

With summer nearly upon us, adults and children are already well into the biking season. 

Busy roads and unfamiliar rules can have some cyclists feeling uncertain of the do’s and dont's of road safety. Children are learning at a young age how to safely navigate the roads through Cycle Stratford. 

“Road safety is important so kids can learn how to get around town and cycle to their school and other activities. This helps develop the next generation of cyclists that will want to join a cycling club as they get older,” said Jennifer Nickel, board member of Cycle Stratford. 

To help both adults and children learn how to safely manoeuvre through the city streets, Cycle Stratford is offering courses on safe biking. Created in 2013, the not-for-profit corporation focuses on bike safety and good sportsmanship. 

“We want people to cycle more since it is active transportation. It is good for the environment, good for health and leisure,” she said.

Partnered with Can-Bike London, Cycle Stratford is offering level one and two courses focused on teaching those new to biking the basics of road safety. Teaching techniques such as defensive riding, collision avoidance, and bike inspection, both children and adults can gain more confidence and control. 

This summer, youth can enrol in level one or two courses. Level one provides an overview of biking essentials. Once comfortable riding a bike, the level two course is designed in a fun manner to strengthen cycling fundamentals. 

Cycle Stratford advocates on behalf of safe riding areas, appropriate signage and safe cycle paths. Nickel, who started cycling in Vancouver and joined Cycle Stratford in 2019, said the organization works directly with the City of Stratford to ensure safe biking conditions for all. 

The road safety program creates a community awareness, said Nickel. 

“These community programs help make drivers more aware that cyclists are out on the road,” said Nickel.

Understanding the importance of an active lifestyle, Cycle Stratford helped create a School Travel Plan Project, encouraging students to walk or wheel to school in Stratford. The initiative, led by Stratford city councillor Kathy Vassilakos, has eight elementary schools enrolled so far.